Profiles in Recovery

Holly Jespersen

Jespersen rappelled down a 22-story building to help fight addiction — an epidemic that claims the lives of 15 Americans every hour. She accepted the fundraising challenge on behalf of Shatterproof, a national nonprofit working to end the stigma and suffering of drug and alcohol addiction. It’s a disease that Jespersen knows well.

A former daily drinker with a five-year cocaine habit, Jespersen was good at hiding her addictions. She had a robust public relations career with agencies in New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. But she wasn’t sleeping and began missing work, eventually losing her job.

Today Jespersen is healthy and committed to recovery — sober since 2011 — and passionate about her work as Communications Manager for Shatterproof, which she helped launch in 2013.

Favorite recovery quote:
“Progress, not perfection” ~ Author unknown

My turning point:
June 29, 2011. I heard a very clear voice speaking to me and telling me I needed to stop drinking or I would die. I have always had faith in God, but that moment was the defining moment of my new life. Thy will be done! I handed over the keys and have not had a drink or a drug since. And that is a miracle considering I was a daily drinker for almost 20 years.

What worked for me:
Finding like-minded people to be in community with; my church community, my family and friends were incredibly helpful and remain so.

Advice to my younger self:
Stop trying to be everything to everyone and embrace the you that God made.

On my schedule today:
Prayer, fellowship with other people in recovery, a full day at a fulfilling and demanding job, a trip to the gym with a dear friend, dinner with my Mom and Dad and a mani-pedi. My days are full of purpose and joy.

On my bucket list:
Meet a man who shares my faith and values to marry. Travel to Ireland and see where my ancestors came from. Go back to Denmark sober and visit my host family.

Thoughts on relapse:
Not an option for me—I don’t think I have another recovery in me so I am vigilant in my program of recovery. I cannot afford to risk the relationships that are so important to me.

Best advice for newbies:
Stay the course—follow suggestions, pray, ask for help, feelings won’t kill you or get you drunk, watch the sugar and caffeine. Be kind to yourself.

What I learned about myself:
That I am strong, but that I need to fully rely on God. I learned that I need to sit with myself when I feel uncomfortable and that it will eventually pass. I learned how to reach out for help and to be honest. I learned that maybe I am not an extrovert.

I get inspired by:
The women in my life who have healthy relationships (friendships and/or spouses), are awesome moms (or not moms) and have a rock solid faith in God. These women who take care of themselves in order to care for those they love inspire me. I am very inspired by a woman very close to me with 24 years of sobriety who walks along my journey with me. She is a strong, sober woman who handles life on life’s terms.

What I value most in recovery:
My relationships-hands down. I used to think I needed to have a huge group of people in my life and today I have a handful of really good friends who love and support me and are emotionally, physically and spiritually healthy. I don’t have time for toxic people in my life.

On finding purpose:
My work at Shatterproof ( is my life’s purpose— the job is a gift from God. I am so grateful to serve this incredible organization.

Shed the Stigma:
If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your insights, please contact us at [email protected].